Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How not to engage at a town hall

I saw this over at Crooks and Liars:

What he says and how he says it are both correct. The woman doesn't actually want to talk about the issues at hand, yet feels a desire to derail it with hyperbole. Not only that, but the type of hyperbole is - as Frank says - "vile and contemptible." It compares Barack Obama - a person who was voted in by a massive popular vote of the entire country - directly to Adolf Hitler - a person who effectively usurped power and installed himself through force of arms.

Trying to argue with her (and those like her) are exactly like Frank said: "it's like trying to argue with a dining room table." It's pointless, and - as recent psychological studies have shown - doing so only serves to imprint the person's message in the minds of the audience. (Basically, the study showed that arguing the counterfactual to a lie by just saying, "Not X," only makes people remember "X," thus keeping the lie "alive" in the minds of the audience.)

This, and the statement from over the weekend of "facts vs. Beck" was also the right way to do this.

Of course, opponents are likely going to latch on to these two cases to try and show how congressmen are "talking down" to "real Americans." However, these stations are likely already preaching to the choir -- people who have already come to that conclusion, and will likely only agree vociferously with the voice coming out of the electronic box that supports their own pre-determined position.

Finally, is it just me, or does it seem like there are fewer cases of "storming the townhall" than there were before? If so, then does it mean that the stormers are on vacation, have started to realize the hyperbole is false, or something else? Or does it mean that more reasonable people are starting to go to townhall meetings in order to try and actually find out what's going on - rather than listen to people yelling on the TV?

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